Archive for category Networking

Dell Wireless 1510 Wireless-N WLAN Mini-Card – Slow!


Introduction

My new touch screen PC has arrived and guess what, I’ve a speed problem with the Dell Wireless 1510 Wireless-N WLAN Mini-Card again. This device seems to be slow, permanently! I’m only getting 96 mbps speed out of the thing.

With my Dell notebook, I purchased a USB N dongle, and fixed the problem. Well, more to the point, solved the problem by ignoring it, and installing something which works at 300mbps all the time.

Solution

Off I went to get another USB dongle, and install it into the new machine. I’m not going to try and sort out if the card can be convinced to work at 300mbps. I’ll probably disable the device altogether, I’m that “peeved” with the device, is putting my feelings mildly.

Conclusion

Why Dell persists with this device I have no idea. If I had the option of excluding it in the build of the machine, I would have made sure that I excluded it. But, excluding it from the build was not an option. So, now I have a new Netgear N Band USB dongle (Netgear N600 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter WNDA3100) chewing up a USB port on the new machine (not a big problem there are plenty at the moment).

Advice

If you want to use N wireless at a reasonable speed, don’t get one of these cards. If you have the option of getting something else get it! Otherwise, if performance of you wireless link is important to you, go and buy a good N band UDB dongle (or card if you have a spare slot), and ignore the card Dell supplies.

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External USB Disk Drives–Gotchas and Tools


Introduction

I just received a new external disk drive from one of my online shopping exploits. It’s a cheap, USB 2.0 portable disk.

In setting it to use with my Netbook, I looked at the properties of the drive. I was surprised to see that it was formatted in FAT32. FAT32 was not something I expected to see, I was expecting to see NTFS.

So, for those reading this who do not know what the difference between FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32 – see Wikipedia -> File Allocation Table – 12/16/32 ) and NTFS (New Technology File System – see Wikipedia -> NTFS).

FAT32 and NTFS Differences

In summary:

Feature FAT32 NTFS
File Encryption No Yes
Folder Encryption No Yes
Compression No Yes
Security (ACL) No Yes

From the above list, there are benefits which NTFS offers.

The down side of NTFS are space, speed and portability:

  • Space. It costs more in raw disk space to install NTFS on a disk compared to FAT32.
  • Speed. You do get a speed hit because you have a more secure between the disk and the OS (Operating System). There is a performance hit (but not an excessive one, you already wear it on most machines which are running anything later than Windows XP accessing you C: drive – I think).
  • Portability. The disk will be only readable on a Windows machine (a very big generalisation – software may be available which circumvents the problems). So, if you want to read the disk on other than a Windows machine (NT, XP, Vista, Windows 7), you may need to stick with FAT32.

Conclusion

I decided that the first thing I was going to do to this drive was copy off the preinstalled software, and then reformat the drive to NTFS. I wanted the compressing option, and robustness (fault tolerance – another plus of NTFS) of NTFS.

SyncToy

SyncToy is a Microsoft free tool, which allows the replication of a folder structure from one location to another. This is really handy for my netbook. I have “stuff” which I want to keep an up-to-date copy of on the external drive, from my NAS storage.  SyncToy is a really simple tool which achieves this for me with a minimum of fuss.

The benefits of having NAS storage in a home network is that it no matter how many machines you have you have a large chunk of shared disk. My current NAS device is a LaCie d2 Network 2 and has been working perfectly since I plugged it into the network. The fact that it is an supports Gigabit Ethernet is another big point that this device has.

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A Minor Home Network Upgrade


Why Did I Need an Upgrade?

There have been a couple of things which have conspired to push me to making a major upgrade to my home network. These reasons included:

  • My MyBookWorld (terrabyte) was starting to run out of space,
  • The 10/100 ether net ports on the Netgear DGN2000 were starting to “fall apart”. I was getting them erroring out, not working at all, and generally “stuffing up” when trying to access the network resources.
  • I’d reached the 4 port limit on the integrated router/modem.
  • The N wireless connections were starting to get a bit flaky as well.

The summary the network was turning into a “not work”.

So with “money in hand”, time to make an upgrade.

The  Upgrade Objectives

The upgrade to the home network had a couple of objectives:

  • Make things stable again. I’ve had enough of thing working for a short while and then loosing the network mappings, or the internet.
  • Modularise the network elements. The modular design should position things so that if one elements of the network starts getting “wobbly”, I can replace that one component.
  • Make space for some more NAS storage. The 4 ports on the old router were full before I started to think about adding more NAS to the network.

The Upgrade Components

  • Replace the 10/100 hard wired/ether net parts of the network with an 8 port 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet switch (Netgear GS108). That solved the hardwired part of the networking, and made space for the next block of network storage.
  • Add an ADSL Modem (getting away from the all in one unit which was starting to get flaky). This was a Netgear DM111P.
  • Add a 802.11N Wireless Router (I connect my notebooks to the network using wireless). This was a Netgear WRN3500. The important part of this was that there it is a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet interface out.
  • Add another 2T of NAS storage. This time I’m using a LaCie d2 Network 2 2T drive. A very solid aluminium cased piece of storage.

Outcome and Interesting Features

So far, so good. Things have been holding together. The network has been taking a “hammering” as I move stuff off the MyBookWorld and onto the LaCie drive.

Setting up the Netgear did not cause too much of a headache. The order I used was to setup the modem first, then the N router. The N router seems to have aggregated the modem (the router looks like it is controlling the modem as well). So, setting up both at once may have been possible.

Moving Files (an aside)

I’ve been using a combination of Windows Explorer, and Dos xcopy. Xcopy is something which seems to give a better degree of control over copy process, and seems to be quick (when compared to Windows Explorer). 

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